I hate to admit it, but I was kind of a brat when I was a kid. I remember getting mad when my mom wouldn’t let me sleep over at a friends house because my room “looked like a tornado blew through it.” But a tornado in December is possible and it was simply sad that my mom didn’t realize it only occurred in my bedroom.
I would stomp my feet ALL the way to my room. Where I would then slam the door and say, “I can’t believe you are doing this to me! You are ruining my lifeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”
Then I would blare Backstreet Boys and cry myself to bed. Because my life was so bad…(not!).
I remember a few times my mother would calmly assure me, “Be happy you have a roof over your head and food on the table, Ashley.”
I told her I didn’t care about roofs and food. Dramatic, much?
I did care about roofs and food. I am so thankful that I never struggled like some of the children in the world today. I should have been more thankful. I should have realized there really are kids who go through every single day with no beds, no roofs, and little food. Kids in my own neighborhood lived this way, and I was too worried about staying at my friends house to care or notice.
I can proudly say I’ve grown up since then and while I do regret my illogical thoughts and expressions as ridiculous teenager, I am happy that my mother always set me straight. And I am sure I will always assure my children they should be happy they have food on the table and a roof over their head. If don’t believe me, well -I will tell stories about the young children I am about to meet through tutoring in homeless shelters.
Tonight, I went to Indy School on Wheels to learn more about tutoring in homeless shelters in Indianapolis.
The statistics I learned tonight were shocking.
- More than 3,000 kids are considered homeless each year in Indy.
- The number of homeless children in Indy increased 78% within the last year.
- Children alone make up 30% of the city’s homeless population.
- Homeless children are twice as likely to repeat a grade in school.
- Homeless children are four times more likely to have learning disabilities than their non-homeless peers.
It’s time to make a difference. Simply by tutoring for one night a week, I have to chance to inspire a young child to reach for their dreams. I can teach them to succeed in not only their current homework assignments, but in life. If you ask a homeless child what they want to do when they grow up, they say things like “go to the lakes” or “fly in a plane” – often they say things that many children have already done at one point in their childhood. Homeless children don’t ever think about what they want to be when they grow up, mainly because of the lack of education and support within their own family. It simply breaks my heart, but I am glad I can help these young children decide who and what they want to be in this life.
The overall goal of SOWs extends beyond just helping children answer math problems or write a creative essay for class. It boils down to giving them the confidence and skills to succeed in their educational journey, so that 12 years later they aren’t back in a homeless shelter with their own children.
I’m excited for this new opportunity in life and to pay it forward. Who knows? I might even inspire a young kid to start their own blog. I’m okay for some friendly competition…